Maximum Performance

Rod Stewart Plays Intimate L.A. Club Gig for Diehard Fans, Harry Styles

Lyndsey Parker
Maximum Performance

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photo: Penny Lancaster

On May 7, rock icon Rod Stewart, who experienced a career rebirth in the 1990s and 2000s with his multi-volume Great American Songbook series and other covers albums, will make his return to original music with Time, his first album of self-penned new material in 20 years. And as an early celebration, Rod performed seven of the album's songs live for the first time, for a small gathering of lucky Rod fans (including One Direction's Harry Styles!), at L.A.'s 300-capacity Troubadour on April 25.

The intimate gig, which also featured a handful of classic tunes, was actually Rod's first-ever performance at the legendary nightclub, which has famously played a large part in the careers of his peers like Elton John, the Eagles, the Byrds, Love, Joni Mitchell, and Van Morrison.

While Rod peppered his set with a few classics ("Forever Young," "Rhythm of My Heart," "Have I Told You Lately," and, most thrillingly, "You Wear It Well"), the night was all about showcasing his new, clearly very personal material. (Rod wrote 11 of the 12 cuts on Time.) There was the sad ballad "It's Over," about divorce ("A subject I know a little something about," quipped the thrice-married singer); the Faces-reminiscent "Finest Woman" and eyebrow-raisingly racy "Sexual Religion," both about his current wife, Penny Lancaster; "Can't Stop Me Now," a reflection on music-business struggles dedicated to his late father, who always supported his rock 'n' roll dreams; and "Brighton Beach," a poignant ode to the 1960s and the one-that-got-away girlfriend he had when he was just 17. "True story," Rod sighed after singing that particularly wistful tune, as a few clubgoers actually brushed away tears.

While Rod jokingly ordered fans to pretend they were familiar with the new songs and react with appropriate enthusiasm ("When you hear the new ones, please applaud loudly!"), so that live footage later airing on Vevo would look impressive, no such instruction was really necessary. While some lingering fans did appear disappointed when an advertised post-show audience Q&A ended up not taking place, they seemed extremely excited to hear their hero's new material. And Rod was as charming a performer as ever; aside from a brief onstage stumble during "Rhythm of My Heart" (from which he readily recovered), the 68-year-old legend exhibited the moves and energy of a man a third his age.

Rod's Troubadour performance is available on-demand via both VEVO and YouTube beginning today, April 27. If you weren't lucky enough to be there, or you just want to relive the magic, check out the full show above!

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